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May 21, 2015 | 08:03 AM

Let’s Play 9!

Don’t have the time or energy to play a full 18? Then just play 9—and do so knowing that the USGA thinks it’s a great idea. In fact, the organization has designated Wednesday, July 29, as the second annual “Play9 Day,” a chance to recognize and celebrate the many virtues of the nine-hole round. A national awareness-building campaign is being launched to encourage participation by golfers and golf clubs around the country, with special Play9 toolkits going to USGA member clubs, on-air promotions on Fox Sports (the organization’s new media partner), digital promotion, social-media outreach, and the involvement of state and regional golf associations. Says Rand Jerris, the USGA’s senior managing director of Public Services, “Nine-hole rounds can fit into anyone’s schedule. They are a great way to expose young people to the game and a great way for families to spend time together.” Helping support the initiative is Rickie Fowler, who stars in a video on the USGA website, and “like many PGA Tour professionals often plays nine-hole practice rounds at tournament venues.” For more on Play9 Day, including information for golfers and golf clubs (such as how to post nine-hole scores to your handicap), check out the special website, usga.org/play9.

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May 20, 2015 | 11:13 AM

Top 10 Top 10

Of all of David Letterman's recurring comedy bits, perhaps none is more adored than his Top Ten lists, which began in 1985 with the "Top Ten Words That Almost Rhyme With Peas." In honor of his final show tonight, here are LINKS Insider newsletter's most popular top 10 lists over the last year and a half.

10. The Top 10 Golf & Beach Combos

9. The Top 10 Florida Golf Resorts

8. The Top 10 Best Golf States

7. The Top 10 Scariest Shots in Golf

6. The Top 10 Most Romantic Golf Resorts

5. The Top 10 Most Underrated Florida Golf Courses

4. The Top 10 Most Beautiful Holes in Hawaii

3. The Top 10 College Courses

2. The Top 10 Munis in America

1. The Top 10 Courses in Ireland

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May 19, 2015 | 09:23 AM

A Revamp For Pebble's 17th

One of the game’s icons is getting a facelift. Work began recently on a renovation of hole number 17 at Pebble Beach, the seaside par three that has thrilled golfers for nearly a century. The putting surface will be expanded by more than a third, from 3600 to 5000 square feet, while at the same time the left-front bunker and the mounds in front of that bunker will be lowered to allow players to see the left side of the green from the tee. The new hole is scheduled to go into play July 24. In the meantime, a temporary green, even closer to the sea, is in use.  The renovation is part of a multi-year project to revamp Pebble’s poa annua greens for better drainage and playability.

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May 18, 2015 | 09:01 AM

Watson’s Mentor Dies

Stan Thirsk, best known as the man who taught golf to a young Tom Watson, passed away this past Saturday at age 87. Thirsk—shown above with Watson in 2000 and in an undated portrait—was a member of the PGA of America since 1957, taught at Kansas City CC from 1962-1997, was named PGA Golf Professional of the Year in 1980, and was inducted into both the PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame and Kansas City Golf Hall of Fame. An accomplished player, he competed in 9 US Opens, 6 US Senior Opens, 10 PGA Championships, and 16 Senior PGA Championships (winning in 1989). According to the Kansas City Star, when Thirsk entered the Kansas City Golf Hall of Fame in 1992, Watson said, “The greatest thing Stan has taught me is character. He’s been more than a father to me on the golf course.” Saturday night on Twitter, Watson wrote, “Stan Thirsk leaves a legacy of kindness, character and enduring friendship which has truly enriched our lives. We will sorely miss his smile.”

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